By Diane Wyshogrod
Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2012, 298 pp.
The good stuff
- Intraspection—Perhaps because Wyshogrod is a psychologist, her in-depth questioning of herself helps the reader understand the inner emotions along her own journey. Her self-berating interrogation after the return trip to Żółkiew, for example, is understandable.
- The need to understand—Wyshogrod’s intense need to understand what it felt like for her mother to hide in a cellar for 18 months is a need many of us can relate to. It reflects an intense need to understand our parents as people—their hopes, dreams, challenges.
- Chronology—The straight chronology proves useful as a structural framework for the narrative.
- Pure love—Wyshogrod quotes William James, “The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” She delivers on this with her book. She also delivers on the Eleventh Commandment – Gedenk, Remember. She has chronicled her mother’s experiences. In so doing, she has delivered an act of love.
- Glimpse of life in Galicia—My own family came from a place not too far from Wyshogrod’s mother. By reading about Lutka’s experiences, I came to know a little bit more about the interwar years in the region, as well, of course, about the war and post-war years.
The not-so-good stuff
- Inconsistent writing—The writing ranged from lyrical to clinical. The “imaginings” could be construed as free-writing and I wondered if they could have been edited out without losing anything. Some sections seemed experimental, such as Wyshogrod’s attempt to understand what her mother did in the cellar.
4.0 out of 5.0